Rail delays ‘putting travellers at risk’ according to stranded commuter

Debbie Kennedy felt last week's rail disruption put travellers in danger SUS-180907-090926001
Debbie Kennedy felt last week's rail disruption put travellers in danger SUS-180907-090926001

An Arundel woman has accused Southern Rail of ‘putting travellers at risk’ after rail disruption forced her to walk home in the early hours of the morning.

Debbie Kennedy, of High Street, Arundel, said she left a work event at 9pm on Wednesday evening expecting to be home by midnight but found herself dropped off by a replacement bus outside Arundel at 3am.

After being caught in a downpour in London, Miss Kennedy, 45, said the experience left her ‘cold, wet and frightened’.

In an email of complaint to Southern Rail, Miss Kennedy said: “I was a cold, tired and nervous lone woman walking home in a pretty remote rural location in the early hours of the morning.

“After a hideously disrupted journey (doing exactly what I was advised at every change) and three trains full of increasingly drunk and aggressive people, the only option left to me was a replacement bus service that dropped me alone, in the dark, just outside Arundel at 3am.

“The driver was great and dropped me nearer to my home than the actual station would have been, but there were no taxis at that time, my phone was almost out of battery and I was frightened.

“Southern Rail put me in danger.”

Miss Kennedy acknowledged that as an able-bodied woman with no luggage it could have been worse, but pointed out the significant danger something like this posed to a someone elderly or less physically able.

Fortunately her babysitter was able to stay with her son, but after having to do the school run at 6am she said she was too exhausted to work in the morning.

She said she is a freelance graphic designer so if she doesn’t work, she doesn’t get paid.

“Simply offering to refund my £30 ticket via Delay Repay isn’t acceptable,” she said.

“Anything could have happened to me. Your failures are putting travellers at risk.”

Southern Rail were approached for comment but said Network Rail had agreed to issue a response to this week’s major delays.
Network Rail’s managing director for the South East route, John Halsall, said: “I’d like to offer a sincere apology to passengers for the delays and disruption across the network after a signalling failure in the Streatham area.

“This was the second time this week that an infrastructure failure has caused major problems for Southern and Thameslink passengers, following a signalling problem near Haywards Heath on Monday evening.

“Passengers deserve a railway they can rely on and, at the moment, there are too many days when that’s not the case.

“I’m determined to put that right and I want to assure passengers that everyone at Network Rail is working hard, with our partners at the train operating companies, to make things better.”

Major disruption continued through Thursday before Southern Rail said all lines had been re-opened on Friday morning and full service was expected to resume by 10am.

“It’s got to the point where I’ve stopped using the trains because they’re so unreliable,” said Miss Kennedy.

“Especially considering how expensive they are.”